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Duke field hockey falls to top-ranked foe

Emmie Le Marchand scored her first goal of the season against Princeton, but it was not enough in Duke’s 5-2 loss.
Emmie Le Marchand scored her first goal of the season against Princeton, but it was not enough in Duke’s 5-2 loss.

Duke battled one of its toughest opponents of the season at home Friday, falling to Princeton 5-2 at Jack Katz Stadium. They bounced back Sunday, dominating the Longwood Lancers 6-2.

The No. 4 Tigers (2-0) began their assault on the No. 5 Blue Devils (2-2) when Princeton’s Kathleen Sharkey put the Tigers up 1-0 early into the first half. Sharkey’s dominance continued throughout the game, as she finished with a hat trick and an assist. All three of her goals came off penalty corners and were assisted by sisters Julia and Katie Reinprecht, who both represented the United States in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

“We gave up too many corners tonight and that’s clear,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “And we could’ve stopped it. It was just an unfortunate error. So if you take the corners and the stroke out, things that we can control, then it’s still 3-2 and we have a chance to win.”

Blue Devil junior Brenna Rescigno, assisted by junior Paula Heimbach and senior Mary Neilsen, tied the game up at 1-1, before Princeton’s Allison Evans put the Tigers up 2-1 going into halftime.

Sharkey scored again minutes into the second half, but junior Emmie Le Marchand answered shortly after with her first goal of the season, capitalizing on holes in Princeton’s tight defense narrow the Tiger lead to 3-2.

Although Duke compensated for its many early penalties with strong defense on penalty corners and goalie Lauren Blazing’s six saves, the Blue Devils could not contain Princeton’s strong offensive unit into the second half. They allowed two more goals on penalties, including one on a rare penalty stroke converted by Charlotte Krouse. In all, Princeton received 14 penalty corners to Duke’s five, and scored four of their five goals on penalty corners.

“They have some really talented girls, but we play up to teams like this, and we’re just as good,” junior midfielder Grace Christus said. “We just need to be a little more consistent throughout the game, to get back to basics so when we see other teams of this level, we’re ready.”

The Blue Devils then faced the Lancers in Farmville, Va. Sunday at Lancers’ Athletic Complex. Duke overpowered Longwood offensively—taking 24 shots to Longwood’s three—highlighted by a hat trick by redshirt junior Devon Gagliardi. The Blue Devils only allowed three Lancer penalty corners to their 14.

From the tough loss against Princeton to the rout of Longwood, this weekend served as a learning experience for the Blue Devils early in the season.

“We’re going to see teams at this level all season long, but quite frankly, I think we’re one of them,” Bustin said about Princeton. “We’re still growing into who we are as a team, so these kind of challenges—if we keep the proper mindset—will help us win.”

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